I’ve known this day was coming for a while now, like that scratchy throat feeling before the big cold settles in. I know the signs all too well, saw many others face the same decisions, the same gut-wrenching dilemma of holding on a bit longer. Or the harder of letting go. I didn’t wake up this morning knowing. I thought maybe I had more time. Maybe my heart was wrong on this one.
But in her silent ways, she was telling me.
You see, she came to me when the sun liked to hang high and long during the days. When Graham and I had only just started out, our love untested, yet true. She had come before my real babies. When I myself was still sort of a baby in many ways. She watched me for the first time with her extra skin falling everywhere. My hopes of a small dog dashed when I knew she’d have to fill those big paws and extra folds.
She was special because she was the first. She represented youth and beginning chapters and life and all those fun things we step into before we’re truly ready to step into the ‘kid’ scene. And we loved her for that.
She traveled first across country to me, not from a mill but from a friend who had me in mind. After that first day together, her leash tied to my belt loop, us tripping over each other in the chaos of my work, we figured it all out. She was mine and I was hers. The bond had been set with that leash.
The years would pass with her. Her favorite pastime watching me. Walking with me. Waiting for me. Riding with me. Forgiving me. Swimming with me. Loving me. Following me everywhere I went. I’d joke with my family that if I went off a cliff, so would Ivy.
She quietly watched as the first human came. Then another. Then another. Then another.
Her seat in the front got moved to the back. Soon, she didn’t even go anywhere as I was camped out in diapers and crumbs and snotty noses and sticky hands.
She took them in. But only because they were my blood. She was happy enough to just watch me. Be by my side. Walk when we could walk. Ride alongside the horses when she could. Camp under the shade of the bush while I chased the kids.
Almost every picture of me holds her in it. The ones you can’t see her in, if you were to just zoom out a bit, you’d catch her there. Waiting, sometimes impatiently, for me to make a move. Go somewhere. Find an adventure together.
And we found many together. But today was our last.
She faltered today in a way that I knew she wasn’t going to come back to me in her right mind or body. Yet there she lay in my yard clinging to life. A suffering life.
My mom brought me the gun, took the kids and gave me my space. I didn’t have time to bring her somewhere. I didn’t have time to call Graham. And part of me didn’t want to. Part of me knew I had to do this on my own. I had been with her since the beginning, and for me; I had to be there with her in her end.
Taking a gun barrel that is pointed toward the heavens and forcing it to the ground on one you love, is no easy task. But I had to do it.
Now, I’m a realist. And I’m well aware she’s just a dog. I am not comparing my little heartache today to those dealing with real tragedy. I’m simply choosing to see what I can from her life.
I mean no disrespect but I saw her much like I see my relationship with Christ. She was always there. Almost annoyingly so. She put up with me. Loved me unconditionally, with no strings attached. Ever.
She watched me. Sought after me. Longed to be with me. Her loyalty drove my husband and family mad at times. She was sold out for me. In her eyes I was perfect. Blameless.
If only everyone saw me as she did.
I believe she was a small glimpse of Christ’s love for me. Because of His work and because I’m His saint He does look at me blameless, and perfect. Even though my flesh fails me.
We ended our day with a hole and a ceremony, tears and remembrance of our special friend. Her example to me a constant reminder of His love. His forgiveness. His continual pursuit of my time and heart.
Ivy on the left. Her ‘sister’ Roxie is still with us.
In the background, waiting for something more.
Always with me.
Staring lovingly at me at all times.